Here is the time for the sayable, here is its home. Speak and attest. More than ever the things we can live with are falling away, and ousting them, filling their place, a will with no image. Will beneath crusts which readily crack whenever the act inside swells and seeks new borders.
Rainer Maria Rilke
Silent night, holy night, when the bough flies from the tree and is hung everywhere, when from tables the crusts fly, when the gifts begin to tremble because lovelessness walks through the world, because it snarls at you, barks at you from the snow, and the silver ribbons rip and the tinsel rustles silvery, and the silver and gold, and a golden word come to you on which you choke because you have been sold and betrayed, and because it does not suffice that for you one is redeemed who once died.
The apparent physical stability of reefs belies an underlying natural turmoil of growth, death and destruction of calcareous organisms. Much like a modern city, reefs are constantly being rebuilt and torn down at the same time. Corals are the bricks, broken pieces of plant and animal skeletons the sand, and algal crusts and chemical cements the mortar. Reef growth is determined by the production, accumulation, and cementation of all this calcareous stuff into solid limestone.
As the sun shines low and red across the water, I wade into the ocean. The water is still high and brown and murky with the memory of the storm, so if there's something below it, I won't know it. But that's part of this, the not knowing. The surrender to the possibilities beneath the surface. It wasn't the ocean that killed my father, in the end. The water is so cold that my feet go numb almost at once. I stretch my arms out to either side of me and close my eyes. I listen to the sound of water hitting water. The raucous cries of the terns and the guillemots in the rocks of the shore, the piercing, hoarse questions of the gulls above me. I smell seaweed and fish and the dusky scent of the nesting birds onshore. Salt coats my lips, crusts my eyelashes. I feel the cold press against my body. The sand shifts and sucks out from under my feet in the tide. I'm perfectly still. The sun is red behind my eyelids. The ocean will not shift me and the cold will not take me.
We have already compared the benefits of theology and science. When the theologian governed the world, it was covered with huts and hovels for the many, palaces and cathedrals for the few. To nearly all the children of men, reading and writing were unknown arts. The poor were clad in rags and skins - they devoured crusts, and gnawed bones. The day of Science dawned, and the luxuries of a century ago are the necessities of to-day. Men in the middle ranks of life have more of the conveniences and elegancies than the princes and kings of the theological times. But above and over all this, is the development of mind. There is more of value in the brain of an average man of to-day - of a master-mechanic, of a chemist, of a naturalist, of an inventor, than there was in the brain of the world four hundred years ago. These blessings did not fall from the skies. These benefits did not drop from the outstretched hands of priests. They were not found in cathedrals or behind altars - neither were they searched for with holy candles. They were not discovered by the closed eyes of prayer, nor did they come in answer to superstitious supplication. They are the children of freedom, the gifts of reason, observation and experience - and for them all, man is indebted to man.
Robert G. Ingersoll
We have got into the habit of admiring colossal bandits, whose opulence is revered by the entire world, yet whose existence, once we stop to examine it, proves to be one long crime repeated ad infinitum, but those same bandits are heaped with glory, honors, and power, their crimes are hallowed by the law of the land, whereas, as far back in history as the eye can see-and history, as you know is my business-everything conspires to show that a venial theft, especially of inglorious foodstuffs, such as bread crusts, ham, or cheese, unfailingly subjects its perpetrator to irreparable opprobrium, the categoric condemnation of the community, major punishment, automatic dishonor, and inexpiable shame, and this for two reasons, first because the perpetrator of such an offense is usually poor, which in itself connotes basic unworthiness, and secondly because his act implies, as it were, a tacit reproach to the community. A poor man's theft is seen as a malicious attempt at individual redress... Where would we be? Note accordingly that in all countries the penalties for petty theft are extremely severe, not only as a means of defending society, but also as a stern admonition to the unfortunate to know their place, stick to their caste, and behave themselves, joyfully resigned to go on dying of hunger and misery down through the centuries forever and ever ...
You are to make up your mind whether it is to be God or man. Whether you are to be free or a slave. Whether it is to be progress or stagnation. As long as man loves a phantom in the sky more than he loves his fellow man, there will never be peace upon this earth; so long as man worships a Tyrant as the "Fatherhood of God, " there will never be a "Brotherhood of Man." You must make the choice, you must come to the decision. Is it to be God or Man? Churches or Homes-preparation for death or happiness for the living? If ever man needed an example of the benefit of the one against the other, he need but read the pages of history for proof of how religion retarded progress and provoked hatred among the children of men. When theology ruled the world, man was a slave. The people lived in huts and hovels. They were clad in rags and skins; they devoured crusts and gnawed bones; the priests wore garments of silk and satin; carried mitres of gold and precious stones, robbed the poor and lived upon the fat of the land! Here and there a brave man appeared to question their authority. These martyrs to intellectual emancipation slowly and painfully broke the spell of superstition and ushered in the Age of Reason and the Dawn of Science. Man became the only god that man can know. He no longer fell upon his knees in fear. He began to enjoy the fruits of his own labor. He discovered a way to relieve himself from the drudgery of continuous toil; he began to enjoy a few comforts of life-and for the first time upon this earth he found a few moments for happiness. It is far more important to learn how to live than to learn how to pray. A new day and a new era dawned for him. His labors produced enormous dividends. He looked at the sky for the first time and saw that it was blue! He searched the heavens and found no God. He no longer feared the manifestations of nature.
Oh, Starbuck! it is a mild, mild wind, and a mild looking sky. On such a day - very much such a sweetness as this - I struck my first whale - a boy-harpooneer of eighteen! Forty - forty - forty years ago! - ago! Forty years of continual whaling! forty years of privation, and peril, and storm-time! forty years on the pitiless sea! for forty years has Ahab forsaken the peaceful land, for forty years to make war on the horrors of the deep! Aye and yes, Starbuck, out of those forty years I have not spent three ashore. When I think of this life I have led; the desolation of solitude it has been; the masoned, walled-town of a Captain's exclusiveness, which admits but small entrance to any sympathy from the green country without - oh, weariness! heaviness! Guinea-coast slavery of solitary command! - when I think of all this; only half-suspected, not so keenly known to me before - and how for forty years I have fed upon dry salted fare - fit emblem of the dry nourishment of my soul - when the poorest landsman has had fresh fruit to his daily hand, and broken the world's fresh bread to my mouldy crusts - away, whole oceans away, from that young girl-wife I wedded past fifty, and sailed for Cape Horn the next day, leaving but one dent in my marriage pillow - wife? wife? - rather a widow with her husband alive! Aye, I widowed that poor girl when I married her, Starbuck; and then, the madness, the frenzy, the boiling blood and the smoking brow, with which, for a thousand lowerings old Ahab has furiously, foamingly chased his prey - more a demon than a man! - aye, aye! what a forty years' fool - fool - old fool, has old Ahab been! Why this strife of the chase? why weary, and palsy the arm at the oar, and the iron, and the lance? how the richer or better is Ahab now? Behold. Oh, Starbuck! is it not hard, that with this weary load I bear, one poor leg should have been snatched from under me? Here, brush this old hair aside; it blinds me, that I seem to weep. Locks so grey did never grow but from out some ashes! But do I look very old, so very, very old, Starbuck? I feel deadly faint, bowed, and humped, as though I were Adam, staggering beneath the piled centuries since Paradise. God! God! God! - crack my heart! - stave my brain! - mockery! mockery! bitter, biting mockery of grey hairs, have I lived enough joy to wear ye; and seem and feel thus intolerably old? Close! stand close to me, Starbuck; let me look into a human eye; it is better than to gaze into sea or sky; better than to gaze upon God. By the green land; by the bright hearth-stone! this is the magic glass, man; I see my wife and my child in thine eye. No, no; stay on board, on board! - lower not when I do; when branded Ahab gives chase to Moby Dick. That hazard shall not be thine. No, no! not with the far away home I see in that eye!